Home Editorials General Revisiting the Bush Deficits
Revisiting the Bush Deficits PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 00:59

On a web board I frequent, the claim was made - for the umpteenth time - by someone of a more liberal/Democrat bent than I that "Bush created massive deficits after Clinton left us with surpluses!!!"  And how many times do we hear from fellow Conservatives that the GOP spent like drunken sailors?  Well, I've had enough.

 First off, this claim shows a tremendous lack of knowledge about how our Government functions.  Here's a hint (well, more like a 2x4 upside the head): the President does NOT write the budget; the House does. Then the House sends the budget to the Senate for amending and its own vote. Then back for conference and a full vote by the Congress. THEN it goes to the President.


So I went digging out some data. And I found the following (summarized and graphed):

The red squares indicate when the GOP was in control of the House and the Senate. The blue squares indicate when the Democrats were in control of the House and the Senate. The purple squares indicate when the GOP controlled the House, the Democrats controlled the Senate.


Anything striking jump out at you? For both Democrat (Clinton and Obama) and Republican (Bush) Presidents, we see that when the Congress was controlled by the GOP - both houses - the budget deficits FELL.


And when either - or both - houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats, the deficits rose.

The data's pretty clear; if we want fiscal conservatism, then the GOP - the more Conservative party - MUST recapture the Congress - BOTH houses. Getting one, or the White House is not enough. Leaving the Democrats in control of either chamber of Congress will not solve the problem; only a Conservatve takeover of Congress can reverse the debts we're accumulating.
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Dave  - Congrats - great info   |24.220.164.xxx |2009-07-14 18:41:24
This puts recent history into context with the facts! Thanks.

p.s. I think in the beginning where
you say "First off, this claim shows a tremendous lack of ignorance about how our Government
functions. "
perhaps you mean "lack of knowledge" rather than "ignorance"?
Shanghai Dan  - Good catch...   |70.193.3.xxx |2009-07-14 19:04:59
Yes, I meant lack of knowledge... Fixed!
randy woolf  - mr.   |74.66.71.xxx |2010-06-08 05:22:52
hmmm...do you know about this?


you should...also, are you including the cost of the iraq war in the
bush deficits? you should, even though he didn't. and it's interesting that your chart leaves out
the rah rah reagan and bush the 1st years...
Shanghai Dan  - Y   |72.102.253.xxx |2010-06-08 09:34:11
Yes, the Iraq war is in there. It's the debt addition - real actual deficits.

As far as Reagan
and the first President Bush, neither had deficits anywhere close to what President Obama has
created. In fact, TOTAL Federal spending - on and off budget - did not reach $1.6 trillion (Obama's
first deficit, and likely his second as well) until 1997. His excess spending is more than the sum
total of every dollar the Federal Government spent for any year prior to 1997.

So you want to
talk Bush 1 or W or Reagan deficits? Great. Here's an exercise for you: who had the greater
deficits, Reagan in his 8 years or President Obama in his first year?

Here's another for you:
which built bigger debt, Reagan and George HW Bush combined in 12 years, or President Obama in 18

Which spent more over receipts, Bush and the GOP from 2001 to 2007 (when Pelosi, Reid,
and Obama took over the budget) or President Obama in his first 13 months?

Your answers will be
most enlightening!
ausdem  - using nominal dollars is misleading   |110.175.36.xxx |2010-09-23 16:55:42
try running that graph again with deficit as a % of GDP and show us what you get. and include the
Bush and Reagan years for full disclosure, then we'll answer some of your "questions".
easy to manipulate date to show your own point of view.
Shanghai Dan  - Hey, that\'s a great idea!   |68.68.39.xxx |2010-10-17 22:36:14

From USGovernmentSpending.com. Hey, guess what? Spending as a percent of GDP was STILL lower!

So I\'ve done what
you asked, I can now a**ume you\'ll actually answer those questions I posed?
alisa   |76.17.54.xxx |2010-11-01 18:10:22
Actually, you could stand a little educating on the budget process. The starting point for the
budget IS with the President. The President writes and submitts his budget to the congress. Then
the congress submitts it to it's various committees for debate, amendments, and votes. Then both
chambers of congress submitt their final proposals to committee to be combined into one, and then it
goes back to each chamber for a final vote. When it pa**es both chambers, it goes back to the
President (where it started) for signature or veto. So the fact is that the budget is written by
the President, but the congress gets to weigh in and amend it, and it is the President who has the
final say on whether it is acceptabe. Everything the congress does concerning the budget is built
upon what the President writes initially.

Bottom line: The congress influences the budget after
the President writes it and submits it to them.
goodspkr   |24.8.165.xxx |2010-11-10 15:24:04
Nonsense Alisa. The President proposes the congress disposes. I would love to hang the $3 trillion
on Obama (he certainly was a fan of spending like that), but he cannot spend one penny that isn't
authorized by the congress.

As for your statement, "So the fact is that the budget is
written by
the President, but the congress gets to weigh in and amend it, and it is the President
who has the
final say" flys in the face of Tip O'Neill who used to say Reagan's budget was DOA.
And the fact that in his second term, Reagan agreed to raise taxes if the congress would cut
spending ($1 tax increase for $3 spending cuts). He signed the tax increases but the Democrats
didn't come through with the spending cuts.

Here's something on this from the legal

Of the three branches of the U.S. government, Congress has the power to determine
federal spending, pursuant to Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "No
money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." The
drafters of the Constitution sought to secure the federal Spending Power with legislators rather
than the president, to keep separate the powers of purse and sword. In The Federalist No. 58, James
Madison wrote, "This power of the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and
effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the

Still, the Constitution reserved for the president some role in legislative
decisions regarding federal spending. The president may recommend budget allowances for what he
considers "necessary and expedient," and if Congress does not heed these recommendations,
the president may a**ert his qualified Veto power. But the ultimate determinations of federal
expenditures belong to Congress.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictio nary.com/Federal+Budget
Shanghai Dan  - Actually, it\'s not that simple...   |68.68.39.xxx |2011-02-07 17:02:39
I remember during the 80s when Tip O\'Neill - speaker of the House at that time - loved to
proclaim Reagan\'s budgets as DOA even before they arrived.

The reality is that Congress
usually ignores the President\'s budget, and the Constitution limits the power of appropriations
to Congress. The President\'s budget recommendations have as much legal impact as if you or I
sent budget recommendations - zilch.

Additionally, why would Reagan and Bush refuse to sign
budgets if they created them in large part? Why was the FY2009 budget not signed by President Bush,
but by President Obama? Why would a President refuse to sign his own budget?

On the contrary, it
is Congress that controls the purse-strings and the budget process. And the central point remains
as shown above - when the GOP controls that process, deficits are DRAMATICALLY lower.
jpease   |196.12.171.xxx |2010-11-08 14:23:05
Great blog. Keep it up.
J. Yuma  - Better Check ALL the Facts   |74.81.156.xxx |2010-11-18 14:45:50
To be accurate, you need to determine the difference between the President's proposed budget and how
much Congress changed it. Also make certain to add Iraq war costs to Bush budgets since he never
did. He always did them separately as an emergency spending.
If you do actually check the facts, I
think you will be surprised to learn what Congress approved, regardless of who "controlled"
it, varied very little from the President's proposals, regardless of who was President. this hold
for certain all the way back through Reagan. The most accurate voice I hear these days is David
Stockman's, Reagan's Budget Director and the author of Reagan's tax cuts.
You can always makes
statistics say what you want, but the facts cannot be changed.
megadude32   |69.160.179.xxx |2011-09-18 16:24:39
Seek the truth on your own find articals on both pros and con and make up your mind. Heres a good
place to start.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1022-26 .htm
Shanghai Dan  - Timely info? I think not...   |50.47.156.xxx |2011-09-18 21:16:39
Your link is 7 years old - not even from the end of the first Bush term. And it's as partisan as
you can find, loaded with ifs and maybes and could be's. Any real facts to present?
Michael Rosenberg  - Data Source   |64.168.229.xxx |2011-09-27 16:22:30

Can you provide the source of you data. I would also be curious to correlate the deficit with
the number of Senators/Reps with each party. You may also be able to provide some correlation
between state budgets/ economic indicators and the governmental make-up of those states (both Gov.
and legislature).

Shanghai Dan  - Source for the data   |50.47.156.xxx |2011-10-06 10:16:18
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